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West Loop Library Planned Next To McDonald's Headquarters, Alderman Says

By Stephanie Lulay | April 27, 2017 6:10am
 Sterling Bay is expected to donate a building at 118-122 N. Aberdeen St. to house the West Loop's new library.
Sterling Bay is expected to donate a building at 118-122 N. Aberdeen St. to house the West Loop's new library.
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WEST LOOP — A prominent developer is expected to announce plans to donate a building to house the West Loop's new public library this week. 

Sterling Bay is expected to donate a building at 118-122 N. Aberdeen St., placing the West Loop's new library across from the new McDonald's corporate headquarters, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) told DNAinfo Wednesday. The developer is expected to formally announce the new library location Friday morning. 

The existing two-story building, on Aberdeen between Washington and Randolph, was part of the former Harpo Studios campus, Burnett said. 

Sterling Bay will work with Chicago Public Library officials to design and build the new library, and will donate the building to the city when it's done, Burnett said. The alderman might also dedicate Neighborhood Opportunity Fund money to help with the building's renovation, he said. 

"Sterling Bay is coming up with a lot on this one," Burnett said of the developer's financial commitment. 

The city has agreed to fund the operation of the public library once it is built, Burnett said. 

The new West Loop public library would be the only one in the neighborhood. The public libraries closest to the West Loop are the Roosevelt branch, 1101 W. Taylor St. in Little Italy, and the Manning branch, 6 S. Hoyne Ave. a few blocks west of the United Center on the Near West Side, and the West Town branch, 1625 W. Chicago Ave. in West Town. 

Sterling Bay officials first announced it would help build a West Loop library when the developer revealed plans for the McDonald's corporate headquarters in June. 

At one point, the developer planned to build the library at the old Coyne College campus, another Sterling Bay-owned site, in Fulton Market. But the developer later abandoned that plan, and considered two or three other sites in the neighborhood, including locating the library inside the new McDonald's corporate headquarters building, before settling on the Aberdeen site, Burnett said. 

"The community wanted it to be more central," he said. 

Burnett said the library will be a bright spot for families in neighborhood.

"It will mean the young people have somewhere to go," Burnett said. 

Sterling Bay officials could not immediately be reached for comment late Wednesday. 

More library details are expected to be revealed at the official announcement Friday morning. 

Sterling Bay is developing several high-profile projects in the neighborhood, including the McDonald's headquarters on Randolph Street, the 12-story McDonald's "Vendor Village" at Lake and Carpenter streets and Fulton West, a nine-story office and parking development in Fulton Market. The developer is also pitching plans for a 19-story hotel at 113 N. May St. near the McDonald's headquarters. 

Sterling Bay is also responsible for developing Google Chicago's headquarters and Ace Hotel in Fulton Market. 

Burnett said the new library "is not related to any other deals" the developer might have in the works. 

"The community has allowed [Sterling Bay] to do a lot of stuff, and they have done a lot [for the community] and we appreciate it," the Alderman said.

Neighborhood Opportunity Fund 

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Neighborhood Opportunity Fund program allows developers to build bigger and taller projects in an expanded downtown area that includes much of the West Loop if they pay into a fund. The new program aims to generate millions to rebuild blighted neighborhoods on the city's West and South sides. 

Under the bonus program, 80 percent of contributions are earmarked for development projects in underserved neighborhoods, 10 percent will be allocated to the restoration of official city landmarks and 10 percent of contributions support local improvements near the development site. 

In the West Loop, high-profile developments like the new McDonald's headquarters and the Nobu Hotel have opted to contribute to the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund in exchange for building larger buildings with more units.